It is impossible nowadays to come across someone without any media presence. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn, we are all trying to find ways to connect. As a result of this, many of us post a lot of different content from pictures to videos and re-posts. This constitutes our intellectual property. Is it protected in terms of copyright laws? What rights, if any, do these platforms have to our works? This article examines this issue.

In terms of South African law, to enjoy copyright protection is not contingent on registration, however it is in many instances recommended. If it is not registered, copyright subsists from the time work is created and exists in material form.
Copyright is a form of intellectual property protection that is available to the creators of original works. Works that are eligible for copyright protection include:

  • literary works;
  • musical works;
  • artistic works;
  • cinematograph films;
  • sound recordings; broadcasts;
  • programme-carrying signals;
  • published editions and
  • computer games.

In order to qualify for automatic copyright protection, a work must:

  • be original – it must not be copies for another source and sufficient labour, skill and judgment must have been inputted in the creation of the work;
  • exist in material form – it must be recorded on some medium;
  • by an author who is a “qualified person” – the author must be a South African citizen or have their domicile here.

The requirement is met if the author is a legal entity registered in South Africa or is published in the requisite manner.
Should your posts fall within the definition described then it qualifies for copyright protection.

All the platforms make it clear that you own the intellectual property related to all the content you share. Many of the platforms provide that you retain your rights to any content you submit, post or display on or through their platform.